A while back, I wrote a positing here about the insidious, pernicious
phenomenon of "Retroactive Samification" - meaning that some ancestor who
never stepped foot out of his native shtetl had his name listed as "Sam"
by his immigrant descendants on documents in the US (name of deceased's
father on a death certificate, etc.). Sadly, I must admit that even my own
great-great-grandfather was the unwitting victim of retroactive
Samification on multiple occasions.
Well, I knew that I had a great grandfather whose name was Schleime Meyer
KOLMAN >from the Ukraine, who arrived in New York in the early 20th century.
In the US, he was known as "Sam". I could never find his Ellis Island
records, which surprised me as I could find all his relatives who came in
that same time frame. Of course, I was looking only for Schleime Meyer
One day, while amusing myself during a particularly vapid meeting at work
by trolling one of the genealogy sites, I ran into Ellis Island records
for a Samuel KOLMAN. All the details seemed to fit my great-grandfather,
except for the fact that the first name was not Schleime Meyer, but rather
Samuel. After all, he would only have changed his name to Sam/Samuel in
And then it dawned on me.
I may have just discovered...
... Proactive Samification!
By that, I mean that perhaps my great-grandfather already took the name
Samuel in advance of his arrival in the US, maybe because he came through
Scotland and it was just easier giving "Samuel" to the Scottish clerk who
registered him? Can you even imagine hearing "Schleime Meyer" in a heavy
I would be interested in hearing if there are any similar stories of
people who experienced Proactive Samification, and perhaps even start a
support group for their families.